Now the Eagles (2-2, 0-1) have a major conference test, playing at MAC preseason favorite Toledo (3-1, 0-0) Saturday at noon.
“In the second half we just made unforced, critical errors and I did not see that coming, and it’s virtually impossible to win a game when you make the errors that we made,” EMU coach Chris Creighton said of the close loss at Kentucky. “To our guys’ credit, they never gave up. We kept fighting and we had the chance to throw the ball to the end zone on the last play to try to win it. So there’s things that I’m very proud of, but honestly, it’s sort of a self-inflicted disappointment that we came away with.”
Creighton is thrilled with the play of his defense. The Eagles are first in the MAC in scoring defense (17.8 points) and second in total defense (300.5 yards).
“Our defense has been playing winning football all year long and that didn’t change,” said Creighton. “On the first play of the game we had a strip-sack fumble, got the ball on their 20 and our offense was able to get a touchdown (Brogan Roback 20-yard TD pass to Sergio Bailey). Our defense didn’t give up a single explosive play the entire day.”
EMU outgained Kentucky by a 312-228 margin, but the Eagles had three turnovers, which proved to be the difference.
EMU’s defense will have to play at its best for the Eagles to have a chance of upsetting a Toledo team that averages 42 points and is led by quarterback Logan Woodside (1,346 yards, 11 TDs, one INT) and receiver Cody Thompson (27 receptions, 505 yards, four TDs).
“We’re playing a better football team/program this week in the MAC than we did in the SEC and I don’t care if I’m the only person on the earth that’s going to stand up and say that, but that’s what I believe.
“I think that they (Toledo) are excellent. When you have great players who are very athletic, can run and are disciplined and well coached on both sides of the ball, then you have a team that’s incredibly tough to beat, and that’s what I see in Toledo.
“We’re in the process of becoming a program. We have tons of work to do. We’ve made progress, but we have not arrived.”
Central on losing skid
CMU third-year head coach John Bonamego will be working hard to try and find a way to end the Chippewas’ three-game losing skid going into Saturday’s game at defending MAC East Division champion Ohio (4-1, 1-0).
Former Michigan quarterback Shane Morris has had trouble since losing receivers Corey Willis and Brandon Childress prior to the streak.
Since CMU’s 2-0 start, Morris has thrown more interceptions (seven) than TDs (three), completing just 21-of-42 for 171 yards and three interceptions without a TD in the 28-8 loss at Boston College Saturday. He has completed less than 50 percent of his passes during the stretch.
“We hurt ourselves in the second half with some costly turnovers,” Bonamego said. “Some of their scores came off long punt returns and you never want to see that happen. We mishit a couple of balls and Boston College is a very talented team that’s able to field on the run and put our defense in poor position.”
CMU’s defense will be tested Saturday by an Ohio team that averages more than 41 points and 422 yards of total offense. Ohio defeated UMass 58-50 Saturday.
EMU at Toledo
When: Saturday, noon
Where: Glass Bowl, Toledo
TV / radio: CBSSN / 89.1 FM
Records: EMU 2-2, Toledo 3-1
CMU at Ohio
When: Saturday, 2 p.m.
Where: Peden Stadium, Athens, Ohio
Radio: 1270 AM
Records: CMU 2-3 (0-1 MAC), Ohio 4-1 (1-0 MAC)